Everyone knows that smoking is probably the least healthy habit there is. Well, except for playing chicken with 18 wheelers in a VW Rabbit or practicing cliff diving from a downtown high-rise.   Everyone also knows that smoking is the fastest way to save the Social Security system. Why? Because a whole lot of smokers don’t ever live long enough to collect – and that’s a fact.

 So, why do we smoke anyway?

 One smoker, who has had the habit for 38 years and still puffs away, says that quitting smoking is like having your stomach ripped from your body. “It is painful – made me aggravated and angry,” he said. “I had to fill the chemical void anyway I could – food, drink, drugs or something else.”

 Many who quit smoking report a drastic gain in weight. When asked why, another smoker said, :The only way I could quit was to eat constantly.” He reported, as he lit up his second smoke in 20 minutes during the interview, that when he quit he gained 80 pounds. “And, during that whole three years, I never ever stopped wanting a cigarette.”

 

 Today, there might be a way to stop without all the pain and suffering.  The St. Mary’s Department of Health has a new program to help.

 It involves participants taking the prescription drug Chantix®  and  following  the county’s Quit Coaches program. Coaches meet with participants in a weekly one-on-one session to help guide them to becoming smoke free. The sessions are scheduled for 12 weeks.

 Half-hour sessions are offered every Monday between 1 and 7 p.m. at the St. Mary’s County Health Department in Leonardtown. Participants must be at least 18 years old and a resident of St. Mary’s County. To learn more, call (301) 475-4356 to pick up an enrollment packet and schedule your first appointment.

 The best part of all is that this program is free! Now, when have you ever heard anything about smoking that was absolutely free?